Well it depends on whether you are talking literally or subjectively. So much can go into the experience of drinking the tea. But let’s start with the leaves that are from the Camellia Sinensis Plant. There are different varieties of the Camellia Sinensis and though the varieties are native to East, South and Southeast Asia; they are cultivated around the world where conditions are found to be favorable.
Freshness of the harvested leaves will certainly play a part in the taste experience. Generally speaking 6 months is a favorable time frame from harvest to enjoy the freshest taste experience. Conditions and farming methods will play a part as in any plant that is consumed. Just as we say we are what we eat the plant too takes on the body of its environment. Did you know there are Camellia Sinensis plants that are GMO enhanced on tea farms today? If you are primarily buying your tea at the local grocery store, you may wish to research what well known companies are participating in the GMO experiment so you do not have to be one of the Guinea Pigs.
Black Tea, Green Tea, Maybe Herbal...
So must a cup of tea contain leaves of this species to be considered a cup of tea?
Well that depends on who you are talking to. In the herbal world infusions of leaves, flowers and delicate arial parts of herbs like peppermint, Stinging Nettles, Rose Buds, lavender and many other herbs are commonly called “Tisanes”.
Decoctions of heavier plant materials such as roots are commonly referred to as yes you guessed it Herbal Decoctions. Roots of the lowly dandelion, burdock, Collinsonia and many barks as well are decocted to give the plant material a longer time to give up its beneficial plant constituents for consumption.
In general terms these concoctions can still be thought of as Herbal teas, as most of us do refer to them that way. How about the combination teas where the Camellia Sinensis leaves of whatever variety are combined with herbals like peppermint leaves or aromatic flower elements, as in the “Earl Grey” variety with bergamot flowers. These additives to the tea are also the more delicate parts of the plant and so they are infused as usual. If you want to alter a herbal root decoction and add in something more delicate like mint leaves, two processed are combined. After the decoction has cooked for the specified time you can shut the heat off and then add the mint to finish off the tea.
So there are some herbal basics ….but let’s say we are just serving up a beautifully fragrant black lychee tea. We received the tea already infused with the fruity lightness of the lychee and the black tea is hearty and heady so the lightness just brings it up to the counter so to speak. What makes this tea a good cup of tea? As we already mentioned the time that has passed since it was picked and packaged will lend its’ contribution. Good quality water is essential to start with… But next is how strong or light we make it to taste, and then how we decide to drink it, celebrate it and with whom or in what atmosphere will surely have an effect on its enjoyment as well.
This is where we get into the art of tea. And yes how we enjoy tea is an Art. For tea in itself is a celebration of life it is the vibrant energy of the plant that selflessly gives itself up for our enjoyment.
What about the environment created to drink your Tea
Time stands still for those who sip their tea…….after all time is just an illusion anyway…….
Time stands still…… assuming you are actually taking a tea break and are focused on enjoying every moment of it.
So much gets crammed into the “normal” daily routine….that the simple practice of making and drinking tea can actually be beneficial just because it gives us a few minutes to decompress. Especially if this time we savor the brew comes midday when we most likely need to take a few deep breaths to re-center ourselves.
Even if you are not brewing hot tea and don’t have to wait for an infusion to steep, you can still benefit from your tea break. Herbal teas especially are a great way to keep ourselves hydrated throughout the day. Giving ourselves something energizing and pure is a way to honor ourselves, both body and soul.
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves- slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future” ~
Thich Nat Hahn
If we can follow the advice of Thich Nat Hahn, then we are reveling in the moment and let’s face it nothing is for certain in this world except this very moment. Anything outside of the present is a possibility perhaps……but right now is here for us and will never again be the present……If we could really understand that truth in every moment how different could it be for us and how much more living could we experience?
If we constantly look at the Time issue from the stance of things to accomplish and the angle of there is not enough time, then we are buying a pattern that returns us to the Rat Race mind. That can’t deliver us to any good end; but the preciousness angle can remind us that we are here in this moment and we can choose to celebrate this life that we are living. What better way to celebrate life then by partaking in what has sprung forth from the earth itself giving up its own essence humbly to help us celebrate our own? That is the ~Heart of Tea ~
The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific ailments or conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.